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Hasdrubal’s fall

The siege of Carthage in 149-146 BCE
The siege of Carthage in 149-146 BCE

Hasdrubal was during the period of III Punic War the commander-in-chief of the city’s defence forces – Carthage. When the troops of Scipio destroyed the Carthaginian army outside the city, the city was cut off from the outside world, and all food delivery ceased. Residents of the city and few soldiers were at the mercy of Scipio. Hasdrubal, who was in charge of defence, asked for peace, but Scipio was merciless (or received explicit instructions from the Senate) and in the spring of 146 BCE stormed the city.

In six days a fierce battle broke out on the streets of the city. It wasn’t until the seventh day that the Romans managed to capture Byrsa – the Carthage acropolis.

Hasdrubal, together with his family and fugitives from the Roman army, took refuge in the temple of Eshmun (Aesculapius), ready to suffer suicidal death in flames. However, at a decisive moment, the Carthaginian leader collapsed. He ran out of the temple and on his knees begged Scipio to spare his life. Seeing this, Hasdrubal’s wife, with a mockery, wished her husband to save his life and pushed the children into the fire so that after a while they would go, or rather fall in their footsteps.

Carthaginians bravely endured the siege, but they could not resist the power and stubbornness of the Romans. Some historians are of the opinion that the Third Punic War can hardly be called a war because it was simply an “execution”. Sources, unfortunately, do not state what happened after the event with Hasdrubal, however, we can assume that Scipio “harshly” treated the disgraced leader, especially if he was reported about the proud and haughty move of Hasdrubal’s wife.

Author: Adam Zawojak
Sources
  • N. A. Maszkin, Historia Starożytnego Rzymu, Warszawa 1953

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